Things to do in Turkey

The attractions in Turkey are scattered throughout the country and range from ruins like ancient Troy to unique natural resources like Pamukkale and sights like the incredible cave churches and monasteries of Cappadocia. Traditional bazaars provide shopping opportunities in exotic locations rich with history. The myriad Turkey attractions draw visitors from around the world, and the country is one of the world’s most rewarding tourist destinations.

Cruises & Shore Excursions

Istanbul and the main cities and ports along the beautiful Turquoise Coast are routine port stops for large ocean cruise ships whose itineraries often also include Mediterranean stops in Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Israel. There are numerous Turkey tourist attractions within reach of the sea providing things to do in Turkey for the ships’ passengers. Antalya shore excursions include the ancient city of Perge with its wonderfully preserved Aspendos Theater and the historic Kaleici District of the city itself. Ephesus shore excursions reveal one of the most extraordinary ancient cities in all of the eastern Mediterranean. Located between Izmir and Kusadasi, you can enjoy tours of this remarkable place while your ship is moored offshore. Almost all large ships that cruise the Mediterranean make a stop at Istanbul for at least one night and offer Istanbul shore excursions, including Bosphorus river cruises and city tours during their time here.

Beach Resorts & Resorts

There are numerous wonderful resorts along the beaches of the beautiful Turquoise Coast, including the Villa Florya Beach Resort outside Marmaris and the Hillside Beach Club outside Fethiye. Both of these are secluded boutique hotels and offer great romantic holidays and getaways. Others are located much closer to the main coastal cities like Antalya and Bodrum and offer the entire spectrum of water sports and numerous facilities and services. There are other types of resorts in the country’s interior, including spa and thermal springs properties around the cotton castles of Pamukkale and a handful of four-star resorts around the Cappadocia cave churches. Things to do in Turkey also include some good seasonal skiing, and you can find ski resorts in the city of Bursa and near the capital of Ankara.

Bosphorus River Cruises

The Bosphorus is not actually a river. It is the strait that divides the continent of Europe from Asia and splits the city of Istanbul in half. Many of the most spectacular attractions in Turkey are located along its shores, and river cruise ships, water taxis, and ferries offer a number of cruises exploring the sights of the city from the water. These can occur during the day, sometimes with lunch included, or are evening dinner cruises to see the beautiful city illuminated. Sometimes they make stops and take passengers on guided tours of the monuments.


Late in the nineteenth century, the genteel sport of golf was introduced to Turkey from England. The first golf course and country clubs were established in Istanbul. Over the next 100 years, they sprang up in many cities and in tourism centers where visitors congregate. Like skiing, this is not the biggest of the attractions in Turkey that draw visitors, but it provides one of the important things to do for those enjoying vacations on the beaches of the Turquoise Coast, and those visiting certain cities on business.


Like the sublime Taj Mahal in Agra, India, there is one sight in Turkey that is the undisputed signature of the country. This is the magnificent Blue Mosque in Istanbul. It is one of the most visited Turkey attractions and most people equate its photo with the country. But you will find beautiful mosques all over this Islamic nation. Many cities have dozens, and many of these are historically or architecturally significant. Virtually every tourist visits at least one.


Some of the finest museums in the world will be found in Turkey. One of the attractions in Turkey is actually the entire country, as a significant portion of it is one vast living museum. Extensive ancient ruins like Ephesus are everywhere, and virtually every village, town, and city has more than one fine museum. The magnificent Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was built as Byzantine church and is now a museum called the Ayasofya, and the Istanbul Archeology Museum is one of the best in the world. The city of Bodrum boasts a superb Underwater Archeology Museum, and the Goreme Valley with its Cappadocia cave churches and monasteries is an open air museum that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Shopping & Bazaars

It is hard to find anyone who visits Turkey and comes away without purchasing a souvenir. Shopping is one of the most popular things to do in Turkey and its bazaars are some of the most fascinating attractions. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul rivals that of the fabulous Khan el Khalili in Cairo, Egypt, and most every town in the country has its own bazaar full of exotic aromas and colorful handcrafts.


Turkey attractions include its beautiful beaches along the 1,000 mile stretch of the exquisite Turquoise Coast. These and Turkish sailing vacations are some of the top reasons that thousands of people visit each year. Most of these sailing cruises are done aboard traditional Turkish gulets, comfortable, two-masted motor sailing yachts that go out on full-day excursions with lunch or cruise for a few days or a couple weeks. The longer vacation packages will make stops on secluded beaches of offshore islands in Greece and Turkey, will make shore excursions to ancient ruins such as Ephesus, and might anchor for a night or two in coastal cities with lively nightlife.


One of the little known things to do in Turkey is skiing. It is not the biggest tourist draw, but there are some excellent ski resorts in several places. The city of Bursa, only fifteen miles from the beaches on the Sea of Marmara has great seasonal skiing on Mount Uludga. In fact, one of the Bursa hotels, the Beceren, is both a ski resort and a spa resort. You will also find good skiing near Ankara and Antalya, and in the far east of the country is superb spring skiing as well as technical mountaineering.

Spas & Turkish Baths

While the Turkish bath has its origins in ancient Greece and Rome, it was the Turkish version that was first introduced to the West. You will find that ancient ones are Turkey tourist attractions within the ruins of places like Ephesus, and several that are hundreds of years old are still operating in Istanbul. The volcanic nature of the country also means that there are numerous natural thermal hot springs to soak in, and many of the resorts and beach resorts have modern full-service spas with everything from massage treatments to facials.


There are tours of all sorts including those within the itineraries of vacation packages that spend one or two weeks traveling throughout the country. You can book tours lasting a couple hours or an entire day at many of the popular Turkey attractions like Cappadocia, Ephesus, and Istanbul. Cappadocia tours explore the underground cave churches and monasteries. Some of the lodging is actually in cave hotels. Cappadocia balloon tours take you soaring over the valley full of fairy tale cones and chimneys for a breathtaking bird’s eye view. Ephesus tours are usually led by a qualified guide who helps you understand the history of some of the most extensive and well-preserved ancient ruins in the world, and the number of available Istanbul tours is limited only by the amount of time you have to spend in the magnificent city.

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